Sea Cloud entered the peaceful, scenic harbor of Ithaka, Greece this morning at sunrise. The steep mountains surrounding the small, serene port were clothed in green hues of pine, olive, and cypress. The waters were still and mirror-like, reflecting the modest collection of whitewashed buildings collected along the waterfront. After breakfast, we used the Zodiacs for the first time as tenders for the short ride to shore. We boarded coaches for the half-hour trip up the mountain to a Greek Orthodox monastery, where we enjoyed a tour of the church with its collection of icons and frescoes. Our guides, Eleni and Smaro, gave us wonderful explanations and told us the history of the island, famous for being the home of Odysseus, the mythical hero of Homer’s Odyssey. After some free time in Ithaka town, we returned to the ship for lunch on the Lido Deck. Later, we had the opportunity to go in Zodiacs to see Sea Cloud under full sail. Before dinner, Allan gave a lecture on Olympia, tomorrow’s destination, as we continued our journey.
Our charts showed the sun rose about 5:57AM. I equivocate because the horizon was as grey as the sea. In fact, there was little separating my visual field as I gazed on the water: the sea and the sky were one. Having watched the movie Around Cape Horn last night, I felt this was a fitting beginning to the day. A light rain was falling. We had an easterly wind of 20 knots at 10AM on the port bow. We were making 9.3 knots in a likely Beaufort 4 sea. The crew had a general safety muster at 10:20AM. They perform this exercise weekly to ensure that in the case of an emergency everyone knows their responsibilities. As I walked the promenade deck, I watched the crew changing the wooden block and tackles. They worked in the soft rain and the chill breeze standing on the rail in the wind. The Sea Cloud requires daily maintenance, polishing, painting, varnishing, and a host of other tasks many of which we do not see. Having been launched in 1931 she requires and expects tender love and care. And from her pristine appearance she has received it. All trust she will be sailing in her 100th year. Many of us slept in and the dining room was still filled at 9AM. Certified Photo Instructor, Anna Mazurek worked on the lido deck constructing the guest photo slideshow. We were treated to bridge tours beginning at 11AM. We learned that the gleaming brass instruments from 1931 still worked. Of course, the Sea Cloud now relies on high tech electronics, but it is nice to know that the old instruments still work. The weather dictated that the luncheon buffet was on the starboard promenade deck. We enjoyed the famous pasta wheel luncheon. The pasta wheel is a 40-kilo (100 pound) wheel of Reggio Parmigiano whose center has been gradually scooped out from use. Hot pasta is dropped into the center of the wheel of cheese; the chef then swirls around your pasta, and as it is swished it gathers cheese. You then can dress it with red Bolognese or olive oil & basil sauces. Many of us went back for seconds! Tonight, Captain Komakin greeted us and toasted us on our wonderful trip, and we sat down to our celebratory Captain’s Dinner. We had perfect weather for the entire voyage, save perhaps our afternoon at Bastia when, although we had rain, it came towards the end of our tour. Tonight, we watched a presentation of photos gathered from all of us and produced a fun visual review of our trip. There were many “oohs” and “ahs” as memories of these past events appeared on the screen and the occasional burst of laughter. Our last night is almost a tad melancholy, but we slept with the hope of meeting again on the Sea Cloud .